Economic Evaluation of Advanced Winter Highway Maintenance Strategies
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Economic Evaluation of Advanced Winter Highway Maintenance Strategies

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    Highway agencies face demands to maintain or improve the existing winter roadway level of service. This paper examines the potential benefits of applying advanced winter highway maintenance strategies. The Vermont Agency of Transportation conducted "Smart Salting," a study of de-icing salt effectiveness at different pavement temperatures. A recommended salt application curve was developed. As the pavement temperature goes down, it takes more salt to melt the ice. Iowa DOT snow removal and material costs were used to calculate the theoretical differential cost using the Vermont Study's recommendations and comparing to actual practice. A saving in materials exists when the Vermont Study material application rate curve is used for pavement temperatures above 25 degrees F. Iowa DOT weather and pavement forecast verification reports were reviewed. The reports consisted of scenario-based questioning, and focused on cost savings and losses. The report calculations did reveal a loss for the 1996-1997 winter season, but preliminary figures for the 1997-1998 winter season are anticipating savings. Advanced winter maintenance strategies reduce the cost of needed winter maintenance. When winter maintenance is lacking, local economies suffer, traffic accidents escalate, and most activities of individuals, industries, utilities, schools, and governments are handicapped in social and economic ways. 2 Tables, 1 figure, references. 4p.
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